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12 Things Great Leaders Don’t Do

12 Things Great Leaders Don’t Do

Great leaders are known for their vision, their ability to make tough decisions and inspire their staff. But what does this mean in practice? Here are 12 things great leaders never do.

1. They don’t put things off

A famous example of a leader who procrastinated during the American Civil War was General McClellan. Nothing was quite ready. This cost the nation thousands of lives and Abraham Lincoln had no choice but to sack the General.

A real leader knows when to make decisions and to take appropriate action. They also know that keeping all options open is a sign of weakness.

2. They don’t listen enough.

If a leader is not prepared to listen actively, then there’s something wrong. Many so-called leaders are so confident of their infallibility that they never really listen. They also make a pretence of listening which may result in a premature assessment and poor decisions. The result is they lose their employees’ trust, confidence, and loyalty.

Successful leaders know how to listen with empathy. They are also willing to answer questions, clarify issues, and respond to concerns.

3. They don’t sit back and relax

Many leaders seem to be satisfied with achieving moderate success and take it easy, once certain objectives have been reached. The founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, once said, ‘The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.’ The intelligent leader knows that striving for better results and greater success is the key to a successful business.

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4. They don’t know how to communicate

Many managers fail to inspire their colleagues. They lack the skills in communicating the company’s vision, policies and strategies to their employees. The result is that teams work badly.

Great leaders spend some time in organizing what they need to communicate and the best way of doing it clearly. They know that this time is well spent and will pay off handsomely in the long run. They also realize the potential of multi communication platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In to maximize contact.

5. They don’t know how to delegate

When poor leaders do not know the strengths and skills of each team member, they find it practically impossible to delegate.

Proper assessment of each member’s abilities is the key to successful delegation. Staff feel involved and valued.

6. Their values don’t reflect the company’s ethics

All too often, ineffectual leaders do not share the values and company’s ethics wholeheartedly. No surprise to learn that their teams lack inspiration and are satisfied with mediocrity.

The most successful leaders are totally convinced about their company’s values and are committed 100% to following these through in their business relations. There is total transparency in their staff assessments, business dealings and their hiring and firing.

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7.  They don’t view setbacks negatively

‘Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.’- Henry Ford.

Uninspiring leaders are often fearful of obstacles and this may very well delay their decisions and affect their action plans negatively.

Dealing with setbacks and obstacles is no stranger to the successful leader. He steers clear of those colleagues who were cautious and can now say that they knew X would happen because of Y. He will never play the blame game, either with himself or his staff.

The Harvard Business Review recommends that the successful leader refocuses on his/her goals because now is the time to accelerate again after assessing any fallout. They mention Donald Trump who failed not once, but twice in his casino enterprises. That did not daunt him from becoming a leading estate developer and producer.

8. They are not emotionally intelligent

Many business leaders and executives display an astounding ignorance or a lack of awareness of emotional intelligence. They are not even aware of EI and what it involves. They fail to realize the damage done by not being able to control their emotions. They fly off the handle at the slightest provocation and they are socially inept. They shout and criticize people openly and they do not make any effort at all to hide negative and harmful emotions. Staff morale plummets and there is a fearful and threatening atmosphere.

Successful leaders know how to control their emotions and they are calm in a crisis. They are also aware of their staff’s moods and emotions when faced with setbacks and know how to praise and encourage them, whether things go well or badly. This is the atmosphere where motivation will thrive and positive staff relations will soar. Learning how to resolve conflict and improve communication will help any business to flourish. You can only do that by being emotionally intelligent.

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9. They don’t see the value of feedback

Everyone craves praise and recognition after a job which has required effort, thought, dedication, patience, and sweat. Poor leaders tend to be mean with praise but also cannot be bothered to give constructive feedback.

The best leaders know when a person needs help and they will care enough to give the help and encouragement needed for success. If it is done helpfully, it can transform a mediocre employee into a high performing one.

10. They don’t think outside the box

Poor leaders tend to micro manage and oversee every little detail. This stifles creativity in their employees.

Brilliant leaders know how much leeway and responsibility they can give their employees, without ever having to supervise and suffocate. The results will speak for themselves and employees will respect you for the confidence you showed in them.

‘It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.’ – Nelson Mandela.

11. They don’t seek advice

Weak leaders always want to display how much they know and how they are on top of the job. This means, in reality, that they rarely seek the advice of colleagues because they are so intent on maintaining their position of authority.

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Wise leaders know instinctively that their employees can be a source of inspiration, ideas, and even sound advice. They know that they need to learn too.

12. They don’t see the value of excellence

‘Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.’ –Steve Jobs

Simply put, great leaders are dedicated to excellence in everything they do. This can range from innovation, staff relations, communications, goal setting, giving feedback and making tough decisions. The pursuit of excellence is the simplest way to describe great leadership.

Let us know in the comments how you have benefited from working with a great leader.

Featured photo credit: Leadership= Vision/Celestine Chua via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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